Chapter 9: Living Wholly

I was captured by her.

I had fallen in love with her formidable words online and bonded over the pieces we shared with one another. Her hair was blonde this time as she sat curled up on the outdoor couch. I had seen it with hot pink streaks. At some point I would see it a shade of the darkest purple. And her lips were red. The kind of red that grabs your attention and reminds you life lives here and is living and will be living regardless of what else is happening around it.

Elora Ramirez is a creative.

She creates with all of her being; including her body. She is a writer, business owner, and story coach who has helped many women tell their stories. That she had put together a writing community completely made up of women fascinated me and so I asked her about it.

“I didn’t plan it that way,” she said, shaking her head. “I created an e-course for writers and women signed up. I never branded myself as working only with women, but since I’ve started I’ve become very particular about that. I think it’s very difficult for women to live knowing we are creative. It is difficult for us to live artistically because we feel like it is selfish or we should be focusing on other things. We feel like we don’t have time to write a book or to make our house something we love being in. Just allowing women that space to breathe and let their creativity out has become really important to me.”

I told her the first four interviews I had scheduled were with women who were wives and mothers as were several more.

“I find many times the women I speak to say, “I’m a wife and a mother or a wife and I can’t really chase my dream because I don’t have time and my husband doesn’t really know what his dream is and if I chase mine it’s going to leave him behind.” On the opposite end of the spectrum are the single ones who often say this, “I’m going to chase my dreams. I’m going to have a career. But, if I do that I’m not going to have time or no one is going to want to fall in love with me because I’m doing all those things or because I’m going to intimidate them.” I asked her what she thought. “Can you find time to be a wife and/or a mother in the midst of all that?” I wanted to know what it looked like to partner in a healthy way with another human while chasing your dreams.

“I think I am my best when I am living wholly,” she said.

“But within my own marriage, I started chafing. A few years ago I got involved with Invisible Children, spent all of my time inspiring people, and wrestled with that tension. At the beginning, my husband, didn’t know if this was one of those phases or something I was truly pursuing. As he watched me and became involved, because we always involve each other, he became inspired, joined me, and became part of my dream. The same happened when we moved to Austin. He wanted to be a chef for years. I pushed him to quit his job and for us to move down here so we could go to school.”

“I gain inspiration when he pursues his dream and he gains inspiration when I pursue mine.”

“I’m a better wife when I know I am doing everything I can to become the person I am supposed to become; whether that be writing a book or starting a business or working with other women or just researching. The moments in which I struggle or feel I’m lacking are often the moments when I am most distressed because I am not creating or pouring into someone else or their dreams. That’s when I am the least fun to live with. I become my best person when I am fully engaging in the artistic process; even if that is during a difficult week, all I do is look for beauty. That’s what I tell women. Sometimes we have seasons where we can’t create; our plates are too full. Look for things that are inspiring to you and look for things that catch your breath and write it down. File it away because in the process you are compiling something you can create from when you do have time.”

I often tell writers the same thing.

I hate to hear people say, “I only write when I’m inspired.” I always think, “how will you ever get any better?” I tell them to write down every thought that comes to them whether it’s okay or kind of good or amazing or terrible. Then come back to it. Set deadlines. Start. Pour out words, come back and edit them.

She continued to share a wealth of knowledge about writing and process and her own experiences. As we packed up and headed to the airport, she told me something which shook me to my core. “Most self-published authors only sell two hundred of their books at most. If they’re very successful, they’ll sell a thousand.” I hugged her and walked into the airport consumed with sudden fear. I had a plan to one day publish traditionally, dreaming of how that might occur, yet it was clear that for few this was a reality.

I messaged my friends Megan and Jeremy and asked both of them, who I thought I was. From another airport, half a world away in Australia, Jeremy spoke these words,

“Screw the noise. The voices that say, “You can’t. You shouldn’t. You won’t. Who in the heck do you think you are? Well, none of that matters.”

He was right. I was like the women Elora and I had discussed, afraid of pursuing their dreams for fear of leaving their families behind, afraid of pursuing a family for fear of leaving their dreams behind. The future was freezing me in boots when I just needed to remain present.

Megan simply replied with a YouTube link. I watched it as I tripped towards my gate through the crowded terminal. I’m sure the people whose feet my suitcase ran over thought I was a little crazy as they looked up to see a wild haired, tiny woman watching her phone and crying through ATX. It was the end of the movie Jobs,

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Resolution filled my insides as I settled into a seat next to the window. I was healing. I was becoming. Elora had said it well today, “I am the best me when I am doing everything to become who I am supposed to be.” Screw the noise.